Scholar, mystic and visionary, Ibn 'Alwan lived through the transition from Ayyubid to Rasulid rule in thirteenth-century Yemen. He was well known in his time for his critique of the ruling elites and their governance, and left behind a substantial body of writings on Islamic mysticism, theology, law and exegesis of the Qur'an. Here Muhammad Aziz presents a comprehensive portrait of Ibn 'Alwan, delineating the religious and political background in Yemen, the development of Sufi orders, the interplay between Sufi, Shi'i and Sunni traditions, and the impact of Ibn 'Alwan on the history of Sufism and Islam. The first study of Ibn 'Alwan in English, "Religion and Mysticism in Early Islam" is essential reading for all those interested in mysticism, early Islam, Sufism, and religion and history more generally.
Muhammad Ali Aziz received his PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has taught at Princeton University and the University of Michigan. He currently teaches at Yale University and is translating three medieval treatises by Ibn 'Alwan.
List of Illustrations; Notes on Transliteration and Dates; Acknowledgements; Introduction; I. Medieval Yemen's Islamic Environment; II. Sufism in Yemen Prior to the 13th Century; III. The Life and Works of Ibn 'Alwan; IV. Ibn 'Alwan's Theological Views; V. Ibn 'Alwan and the Sufi Tradition; VI. The Fundamentals of Ibn 'Alwan's Sufi Thought; VII. The Islamic Concept of Sainthood and Ibn 'Alwan as a Saint; VIII. Zaydi Imams and the Sufi Tradition in Yemen; IX. Sufism in Yemen after the Age of Ibn 'Alwan; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index